"Boule de Suif" was first published in 1880 in the anthology Les Soirées de Medan. Often considered his greatest work, "Boule de Suif" was published the same year that Guy de Maupassant made his poetic debut with Des Vers. The theme of the anthology of short stories was the Franco–Prussian War from a decade earlier. Other writers contributed, includingÉmile Zola and J. K. Huysmans, but it was Maupassant's short story, often considered the best example of naturalism, that has reigned as the most famous.
Maupassant is known for his insightful descriptions of characters and their actions and dialogues. His ability to capture a scene and recreate it in literary form has earned him a notable place in the history of naturalists. Maupassant's "Boule deSuif" is not only a sound reflection of retreating France during the Franco–Prussian War, but a resounding exploration of morality and ethics in a divided society. The title character is caught in a repetitious cycle of self-examination that has forced her into a circular ethical conundrum. All the while, her position is created not on her own accord, but through the manipulation of spitefulmembers of the respectable social order. The complexity that lies beneath Maupassant's imagery, his representation of humanity, and his ability to convey vibrant humor separates him from his contemporaries, placing him in a class only matched by Gustave Flaubert.
Guy de Maupassant, a nineteenth-century naturalist author, is one of France's most distinguished and celebratedwriters of short stories. An incredibly productive writer, Maupassant achieved recognition quickly in France, and the amazing bulk and quality of his work left an impressive and permanent mark on the literary world of short fiction.
It is believed that Maupassant was born at Château de Miromesniel on August 5, 1850, although it is speculated that his parents moved him from their humble house in Fécampto the imposing Miromesniel mansion to give their first-born child a high-sounding birthplace. Château de Miromesniel is located in a small village outside of Dieppe, called Tourville-sur-Arques. His parents separated when he was eleven years old, and he lived all of his early years in his native Normandy. Maupassant was born with the gift of a photographic memory, and this innate talent helpedhim to remember the nuances of Norman people that later made his stories so descriptive.
In 1869, Maupassant moved to Paris to study law, but by the age of twenty he volunteered to serve in the army during the Franco–Prussian War. After the war he joined the literary circle headed by Gustave Flaubert. The famous writer was a friend of Maupassant's mother. Flaubert introduced his new protégé toother writers, including Émile Zola, Ivan Turgenev, and Henry James. Flaubert was wholly impressed with Maupassant and became obsessed with teaching the young Maupassant the art of seeing. Although the young author was grateful for Flaubert's instruction and doting, he was much more lighthearted and cynical than his mentor.
During the years between 1872 and 1880, Maupassant spent much of his timehating his work as a civil servant and all of his free time writing and chasing women. He made his literary mark in 1880 with the publication of his greatest masterpiece, "Boule de Suif." The title translates as "Ball of Fat," but in most English translations the title is left in Maupassant's native tongue. During the 1880s, Maupassant penned over three hundred short stories, six novels, threetravelogues, and one volume of verse. From this incredible body of work, Maupassant created many remarkable stories, including the novels Une Vie in 1883, and Pierre et Jean in 1888.
Although many of his stories were considered immoral—his subject matter was frequently centered on sex, adultery, prostitutes, and food and drink—a small portion of his corpus was dedicated to short horror stories....